JTF Bravo Plays Vital Role in Navy Humanitarian Mission
By Senior Airman Shaun Emery, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
PUERTO CORTES, Honduras, Aug. 10, 2007 Members of Joint Task Force Bravo, at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, assisted the Navy with ground and air support for the worldwide humanitarian mission Project Handclasp earlier this week.
Local civilians help Joint Task Force Bravo and other military personnel unload humanitarian supplies during Project Handclasp, a partnership between the Navy and corporations, public service organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals throughout the United States. Members of Joint Task Force Bravo assisted the Navy with logistics, ground and air support. Photo by Senior Airman Shaun Emery, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Project Handclasp, which was conducted Aug. 6-8, is a partnership with corporations, public service organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals throughout the United States. Project Handclasp's humanitarian, educational and goodwill materials are donated by America's private sector and distributed by sailors and Marines to those in need overseas.
During their mission to Honduras, members of the USS Pearl Harbor requested the aid of aircrew, medical personnel and Headquarters Support Company personnel from Joint Task Force Bravo to accomplish their mission. Members of JTF-Bravo helped move 2 tons worth of supplies during the three-day mission.
"A project of this magnitude takes coordination and cooperation from everyone involved," said Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Dennis Wheeler. "We normally would have to rent vehicles to distribute materials to the villages. JTF Bravo went above and beyond with their ground and air support."
Members of 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, touched down in the town of Coyolito, where local children helped load a UH-60 Black Hawk with food and personal hygiene items. The crew airlifted the items to four villages in the surrounding area. Army Chief Warrant Officer Richard Payton, a UH-60 pilot, said he was glad the battalion could lend a hand.
"It's always a good feeling when you can do a humanitarian mission," he said. "We train all the time here at Soto Cano. To actually take that training and put it to use for this type of mission is outstanding."
In total, Project Handclasp delivered humanitarian relief to nine villages in southern Honduras. Medical liaisons from JTF Bravo worked with the Honduran Ministry of Health to identify sites with high rates of malnutrition.
"Project Handclasp was a great opportunity to provide relief to those in need," said Army Lt. Col. Esmeraldo Zarzabal, deputy commander of JTF Bravo's Medical Element. "This effort goes a long way in our continuing focus on partnership with the Americas."
As the helicopters flew overhead, members of the support platoon took to the road to deliver goods to the remaining villages. When they arrived at their destination, they were greeted by local children, eyes wide in anticipation.
"I don't think they were expecting to receive all the things we had for them," said Army Staff Sgt. Alma Jennings, a platoon sergeant in Headquarters Support Company. "They were really happy to see us. It was a wonderful feeling."
(Air Force Senior Airman Shaun Emery is assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo.)